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Wed Dec 30, 2015, 01:35 PM

Seymour Hersh turns Uyghur refugees into “would-be fighters”

Seymour Hersh’s latest piece on Syria seems to contain quite a few questionable claims, but I was most curious about what he says about the two “rat lines” funnelling Uyghur jihadists from Xinjiang into Syria via Turkey, one running through Southeast Asia, the other through Central Asia. Among other pieces of evidence that he provides for this claim, Hersh writes that: “IHS-Jane’s Defence Weekly estimated in October that as many as five thousand Uighur would-be fighters have arrived in Turkey since 2013, with perhaps two thousand moving on to Syria.”

Even by the standards of punditry on the Xinjiang – Syria connection, this figure of five thousand struck me as high. And what is a “would-be fighter” anyway? How do you distinguish a “would-be fighter” from the rest of the “wouldn’t-be fighters” among the Uyghurs living in Turkey? Apparently the border between Turkey and Syria isn’t particularly hard to get across. If they “would be” fighters, what’s stopping them?

I have an institutional subscription to all of the IHS-Jane’s publications, including Defence Weekly, so I scoured their website for Hersh’s source, but couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. When I posted a query about this to colleagues in the Xinjiang field, a contact of Victor Mair helpfully turned up this piece by IHS-Jane’s analyst Anthony Davis, which was published in the Bangkok Post on October 27, titled “How China’s Uighur abuse fuels terrorism.” Of course I can’t be 100% sure about this identification, but it’s a much better fit for Hersh’s description than anything on the IHS-Jane’s website itself. It’s the right month, right organisation, and it also gives a figure of 5,000 Uyghurs arriving in Turkey since 2013. I think it’s highly likely that this is the piece that Hersh is referring to. Notably, though, it does not, as Hersh does, characterise these Uyghurs as “would-be fighters”. Davis writes:

The flip-side for Beijing in pre-empting the threat of domestic terrorism is stemming the flow of Uighur migrants fleeing the suffocating lock-down imposed by the security forces in Xinjiang. Once a trickle through the Central Asian -stans, by last year the exodus became a flood through Southeast Asia. Numbers are imprecise but conservative estimates put Uighur refugee arrivals in Turkey over the past two years at 5,000-6,000 with more on the road.

It couldn’t be clearer: this 5,000 is an estimate of the number of Uyghur refugees to have reached Turkey in recent years, a figure that the author directly links to Chinese repression in Xinjiang. Yet in Hersh’s hands, these Uyghur refugees have all become “would-be fighters” travelling the “rat line” to Syria. It’s a crude distortion that entirely parrots the Chinese position that every Uyghur who tries to flee the PRC is on their way to the jihad in the Middle East. If the London Review of Books, or anyone else, can point me to an IHS-Jane’s source that actually talks about “five thousand Uighur would-be fighters” in Turkey, I’ll happily stand corrected. Otherwise they really should do something about this slur against Uyghur refugees that they’ve just published.

http://www.sinoturcica.org/seymour-hersh-turns-uyghur-refugees-into-would-be-fighters/


Sy has lost his fucking mind...

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Reply Seymour Hersh turns Uyghur refugees into “would-be fighters” (Original post)
Blue_Tires Dec 2015 OP
Dr Hobbitstein Dec 2015 #1
Blue_Tires Dec 2015 #2
PaulaFarrell Dec 2015 #3
Blue_Tires Dec 2015 #4

Response to Blue_Tires (Original post)

Wed Dec 30, 2015, 01:38 PM

1. Well, then you're shooting the messenger

 

or something... Because we can't call out conspiracy theorists or RW trolls. For some reason, we should listen to what they say and respect it, and not rebut the facts (even if there are none, but you can't say it's fact free because reasons) because it interferes with other posters confirmation bias.

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Response to Dr Hobbitstein (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 30, 2015, 01:46 PM

2. I'm a veteran of slapping down those talking points

which is usually why my threads drop like a stone -- None of the dudebros are brave enough to try me anymore...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Original post)

Wed Dec 30, 2015, 03:59 PM

3. i am asking in good faith

So please educate me. Why do Chinese refugees go all the way to Turkey? It's a very long way. Syria even more so. I get the Chinese position but not why they are going there

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Response to PaulaFarrell (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 30, 2015, 04:54 PM

4. Getting prosecuted in western China...

And Turkey is a large nation, until recently they had open arms for refugees, there's a decent standard of living, etc...

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